The COVID-19 Emergency Housing Act will create protections for Illinoisans struggling to pay their rent or mortgages as a result of unprecedented economic instability caused by the pandemic. After many months of work, the bill (HB 2877) passed in the Illinois House in March, and on April 29, it passed in the Illinois Senate earlier by a vote of 39-13. The bill now goes to Governor Pritzker for his consideration.
Housing Action Illinois and our allies are grateful to our champions in the General Assembly, including Representatives Delia Ramirez and Lindsey LaPointe in the House and Senators Omar Aquino and Robert Peters in the Senate. Thanks, too, to all the legislators who co-sponsored the bill and voted in support.
We also want to express our appreciation to everyone who contacted their legislators, filed witness slips, posted info on social media and/or took other actions in support.
The COVID-19 Emergency Housing Act will:
- Codifies certain provisions of the federally-funded emergency rental assistance program. The provisions are intended to ensure that people with the lowest incomes and most severe housing needs are able to access the $566.2 million in emergency rent assistance to be distributed by the State of Illinois as soon as April 2021. Between state and local governments, the total rent assistance available in Illinois will be $834.7 million.
- Requires the sealing of all eviction records between March 2020 and March 2022 upon filing, with limited unsealing allowed if a judgment is entered and the case is unrelated to nonpayment of rent. Renters should not face permanent housing barriers due to the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. An eviction record, including even the mere filing of a case, hampers a tenant’s ability to secure housing.
- Requires the sealing of older eviction records if the court finds that doing so is in the interests of justice, the case is dismissed, the tenant did not breach the lease, or the parties agree to seal the record. This provision sunsets on July 31, 2022.
- Prohibits tenant screening companies from disseminating a sealed eviction court record and creates penalties for doing so. This provision sunsets on July 31, 2022.
- Creates temporary COVID-19 emergency homeowner and small landlord foreclosure protections by halting judicial sales and orders of possession through July 31, 2021.
As these provisions are time sensitive, we urge Governor Pritzker to sign the bill as soon as possible.
We’ve drafted a sign-on letter asking Governor Pritzker to sign HB 2877 into law. The deadline to sign the letter is Monday, May 3 at noon. Add your voice: